This project was inspired by It is Art Day! Check out that post for more awesome examples and step-by-step directions!
We began by rolling out clay into a slab and cutting out the center to make a flat donut. We used straws to poke and odd number of holes around the edge. We poked holes using cut up straws. I found that 13 or 15 holes worked best.(Make sure the holes go all the way through! I had a batch that I forgot to double check and no amount of stabbing at the stoneware clay would make a hole appear. Luckily I had made several extras so it was all good!) It was also helpful to make 2 of the holes kind of off the the side in order to designate where to hang it. Texture was added with stamps and other tools.
After the looms went through the bisque kiln, we used oil pastels and water colors to design.
First, color on the clay with an oil pastel.
You can paint right on top with water colors to create a really lovely resist.
We used twisty wires and pony beads to make a place to hang it up.
Next is the really tricky part. It took over an entire class to do this step by step and 5th graders definitely had to practice some patience and perseverance but we made it! I found that the easiest way to explain this was to use the analogy of a clock or a bicycle wheel with spokes. I did not have 5th graders label theirs like I have in the following pictures but I definitely will next year!
Begin by tying a knot at 12 or 13 o’clock. Make sure the other end of the yarn has some tape around it to it doesn’t fray. I told my kiddos to make it look like a shoelace.
Next, put the other end through a hole that is on the opposite side. This was pretty important because not everybody had a “6 o’clock” that was directly opposite from the top hole. I told students to just choose whichever one was closer. In my example I went to 7 o’clock:
Then, we “walk around the clock”. Go from 7 to 1.. . .
Go from 1 to 8. . .
Go from 8 to 2 to 9. . .
After the first few steps some students start to understand the pattern. I tell those students to work ahead and finish and then they become my helpers and assist students who may be struggling. I demonstrated the steps on a doc cam and had some students working on the carpet looking at the board and other students in small groups at their tables. After every step I tried to circulate around the room at least once and help out kiddos who needed. Eventually we went all the way around:
This last part is pretty tricky and I ended up doing it for most of the students. Basically you have to make sure you have an odd number of “spokes” going around the wheel. If you for some reason do not have an odd number, skip a hole or go through a hole twice and kind of finagle it to make it happen. You take the end of the string and put it through the center underneath the top layer and gather up all the spokes and shift them to the middle. (I wish I could have snapped better picture of this but it makes a lot more sense if you try it out for yourself!)
Tie a knot in the middle and make sure everything is centered! Then snip off the ends.
When you go to weave, make sure you do it from the front. You can tell the front from the back because the front lo0ks symmetrical and the back looks like a bunch of lines.
To begin weaving, tie a new piece of yarn on any string in the middle and go around and around: over, under, over, under. When you run out of that color, tie a new color to the end and keep going.
I think these turned out fabulous and the even though the process was challenging, the kids ended up loving it!